OzTech: Digital economy strategy for Budget 2021-22; Drones aid NSW flood recovery efforts; PwC starts tech hiring in Adelaide

OzTech Roundup is Computerworld Australia’s weekly look at the world of IT.

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Federal government launches digital economy strategy

The Australian federal government has announced a digital economy strategy as part of the upcoming Budget 2021-22, which will see more than $950 million invested in building an artificial intelligence capability, training in digital skills for Australians, enhancing government services delivery, financial incentives for small and medium businesses, strengthening cybersecurity, and a data strategy.

The government expects the digital economy strategy to target investments that will deliver improvements in jobs and productivity and make Australia’s economy more resilient. For this to happen, $101.8 million will go towards a new pilot program for work-based digital cadetships, investments in the cyber workforce, and scholarships for emerging technology graduates.

A national AI centre led by CSIRO’s Data61 research network, as well as other AI initiatives including grants for AI solutions and opportunities for businesses to work on AI projects for the government, will receive $124 million.

MyGov, the eight-year-old government portal for residents to access the Australian Taxation Office, Medicare, and other services, will get a $200 million overhaul, while $301 million will go towards expanding My Health Record and the digital identity system.

The promise to help small and medium businesses looking to build their digital capabilities will come on the form of a $12.7 million investment in access to advisory services. Another $15.3 million will go towards “increasing awareness of the value of e-Invoicing”.

Other planned funding includes:

  • $111.3 million to support the acceleration of the consumer data right.
  • $40.2 million to deliver the Digital Atlas of Australia.
  • $16.5 million for a pilot program to make the Australian government's data assets. discoverable, which will complement the creation of the Australian Data Strategy expected by late 2021.
  • $50 million for enhancing cybersecurity in government, data centres, and future telecommunications networks.

Data gathered by drones help flood recovery in NSW

Data gathered by drones has helped the New South Wales government to fast-track assessment of damage and efforts to rebuild roads and bridges following last month’s devastating floods.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the rainfall on the week ending 24 March 2021 was the wettest week for the region since national daily records began in 1900. The state also recorded its second-wettest day, third-wettest week, and second-wettest March on record since 1900.

The data was used to locate and create plans to remove soil and debris due to flood damage. The images helped engineers how many tonnes of rock and debris need to be removed. It also provided data to build 3D modelling of the slopes affected.

Transport for NSW started using drones in 2019 and have used them for recovery efforts of the 2020 Blue Mountains bushfires. Drones have also been used for transport-related work, including routine maintenance and planning for infrastructure projects.

PwC starts hiring for new Adelaide office

PwC has started to advertise jobs to fill its new Adelaide office, which is set to open in July 2021. The consultancy had announced the location, dubbed the Skilled Service Hub, would create 300 ‘highly skilled’ jobs over 18 months but has so far only advertised for fewer than 20 roles.

Roles for cloud and cybersecurity professionals are currently open. PwC said in a statement it is working to fill positions from undergraduate through to highly skilled experienced staff at rapid speed.

At the time it announced the new location, PwC said the focus was to give local university students the opportunity to work while they study, in a field directly related to future employment.

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